Are you in search of a cookie that is worthy of a special dessert, something too elegant for the bottom of a lunch box? Double your favorite cookies and turn them into sandwiches.

With the exception of delicate cookies that break easily, almost any cookie can hold a filling and become a sandwich, but some work better than others. Two of my favorite combinations are peanut butter cookies filled with milk chocolate and soft chocolate cookies filled with almond frosting.

The cookies should be either thin or soft so that they are easy to bite. Large, thick cookies can be too substantial if served sandwich style, but if you have a favorite recipe for big cookies, try baking them in a smaller size.

Fillings should be generous, but not to the point that they squirt out when you bite down. Also, let thick layers of melted chocolate firm up somewhat before adding the top cookie.

Easy fillings include melted white, milk or dark chocolate; caramel or chocolate sauce cooled until thick enough to spread; jam and fruit spread; and simple butter and confectioners' sugar frosting or cream cheese frosting.

The same batch of cookies can take different fillings. Fruit-flavored jams or chocolate can go between chocolate cookies and butter cookies of all flavors. Jam or chocolate fillings work well with peanut butter cookies, while simple buttercream frostings can fill a soft chocolate or a favorite oatmeal cookie.

During baking, a batch of cookies can spread into different sizes, so arrange cookies in pairs of similar size before filling them.

By lining the baking sheets with parchment paper, I eliminate greasing sheets and seldom have to wash them. Wax paper won't work since it will burn wherever a cookie doesn't cover it. If you don't use parchment paper, most baking sheets will need to be greased.

Many sandwich cookies freeze well, and one great way to freeze them is to wrap each one in plastic wrap before you seal all of them in a plastic freezer bag or rigid container. That allows you to take out only the number you need from the freezer. Remember: If you can protect the frozen cookies from the air in their container that will make a big difference in how they taste when defrosted.

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

(18 sandwich cookies)

Try this very rich, soft chocolate filling with this cookie recipe or your own favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

For the cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for the pan

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

9 ounces (1 1/2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

For the cookies: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended, about 15 seconds. Mix in the flour mixture, blending just until it is incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Drop 36 rounded teaspoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven, rotating the baking sheets after 6 minutes to ensure even browning, until the edges are dark golden, about 11 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the cream and butter until the butter melts. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chocolate chips and set aside for about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and stir until the sauce is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Let the sauce cool and thicken for about 1 hour before spreading it on the cookies.

To assemble, turn 1/2 of the cookies upside down. Carefully spread 1 generous tablespoon of chocolate filling over the surface of each overturned cookie, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Gently place the remaining cookies bottom-side down, on top of the chocolate-smeared cookies. Serve at room temperature. (Or wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Per cookie: 321 calories, 3 gm protein, 39 gm carbohydrates, 20 gm fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 6 gm saturated fat, 107 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Toasted Almond and Blackberry Jam Cookie Tarts

(12 sandwich cookies)

These cookies have 2 crisp, butter almond cookies sandwiched together with blackberry jam. The top cookie has a hole cut out of the center and is sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, so the bright jam shines through. Use seedless blackberry jam for the filling.

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for working dough

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus additional for dusting tops

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds, finely ground

3 tablespoons seedless blackberry jam

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the vanilla and almond extracts and ground almonds. Mix in the flour mixture, blending until the flour is incorporated and the dough holds together. Form the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is cold and firm enough to roll, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Have 1/2-inch and 1 1/4-inch metal cookie cutters ready.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the cold dough into a 1/4-inch-thick circle. Loosen the circle of dough from the rolling surface with a metal spatula. Use the 1 1/4-inch cutter to cut out as many circles as possible. Gather together the dough scraps, reroll and cut again. You should have a total of 24 circles. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on 1 of the prepared baking sheets.

Cut a 1/2-inch circle from the center of 1/2 of the cookies; remove the cookie-dough circles and set aside. (The wide, round end of the tip of a small pastry tube or an apple corer works well for cutting small circles. The dough holes can be baked with the cookies for snacks.)

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven, rotating after 7 minutes to ensure even browning, until they are light golden, 13 to 16 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Spread a thin layer of blackberry jam over the 12 cookies without holes, leaving a 1/4-inch edge. Sift confectioners' sugar over the cookies with holes and place them on top of the jam-covered cookies. Serve at room temperature. (Or wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Per cookie: 158 calories, 2 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 10 gm fat, 21 mg cholesterol, 5 gm saturated fat, 46 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Whoopie Pies

(9 whoopie pies)

These big cookies resemble the tops of two chocolate cupcakes sandwiched together with white frosting. Instead of the traditional ultra-sweet white frosting, these whoopie pies have a buttercream frosting with a distinct almond flavor.

For the cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for the baking sheets

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

For the filling:

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly butter the paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla until blended. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the sour cream. Mix in the flour mixture, blending just until it is incorporated.

Drop 18 rounded tablespoons of batter 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (The batter is thick enough to hold its mound shape.) Bake the 2 sheets of cookies in the preheated oven, rotating the baking sheets after 7 minutes to ensure even browning, until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cookies comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. With a metal spatula, carefully loosen the cookies from the paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling: In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed, cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and almond extracts until the mixture is smooth.

To assemble, turn 1/2 of the cookies upside down. Spread 1 tablespoon of filling over the surface of each overturned cookie, spreading it all the way to the edge. Gently place the remaining cookies, bottom-side down, on top of the smeared cookies. Serve at room temperature. (Or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Per cookie: 338 calories, 4 gm protein, 43 gm carbohydrates, 18 gm fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 11 gm saturated fat, 180 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Lemon Butter Cookie Sandwiches

(20 sandwich cookies)

These cookie sandwiches only look as if they take a lot of time to make. The filling is store-bought lemon curd and the perfectly shaped disks are quickly sliced from a chilled log of dough. For the best tasting lemon curd, look for jars of curd that appear opaque rather than clear.

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons cold lemon curd

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, cream the butter, sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in the egg yolk, lemon juice and peel and vanilla and almond extracts until blended. Mix in the flour, blending just until it is incorporated.

Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a log about 10 inches long. Roll the dough in the plastic wrap and roll back and forth until the log is smooth and about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Chill the log of dough until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the chilled dough. With a large knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Turn 1/2 of the cookies upside down. Spread a scant teaspoon of lemon curd over the surface of each overturned cookie, leaving a 1/4-inch edge. Gently place the remaining cookies, bottom-side down, on the lemon curd-topped cookie. Serve at room temperature. (Or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Per cookie: 110 calories, 1 gm protein, 13 gm carbohydrates, 6 gm fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 15 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

(15 sandwich cookies)

These soft peanut butter cookies--delicious all by themselves--are filled and drizzled with a thick layer of milk chocolate.

For the cookies:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for the pan

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

10 ounces milk chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

For the cookies: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the speed to low, add the egg and vanilla and blend. Mix in the flour mixture, blending just until it is incorporated.

Using 2 teaspoons of dough for each cookie, drop 30 walnut-size mounds of batter 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes to ensure even browning, until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are golden, about 10 minutes total. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, have a baking sheet lined with wax paper ready.

Turn 1/2 of the cookies upside down. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the still-warm chocolate over the surface of each overturned cookie, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Set aside until the chocolate thickens somewhat. (To speed the process, refrigerate the cookies for about 15 minutes.)

Meanwhile, dip a fork in the remaining still-warm chocolate and drizzle lines over the right-side up cookies. Gently place the chocolate-drizzled cookies on top of the chocolate-topped cookies. Serve at room temperature. (Or wrap tightly and store at room temperature for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Per serving: 236 calories, 4 gm protein, 26 gm carbohydrates, 27 gm fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 128 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Elinor Klivans's latest book is "125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble, and Savor" (Bantam, 1998).

CAPTION: Whoopie Pies are big cookies with almond buttercream filling.

CAPTION: Lemon Butter Cookie Sandwiches are elegant but easy icebox cookies.

CAPTION: Toasted Almond and Blackberry Jam Cookie Tarts are snappy looking cookies with a gleam of jam.